With 535 athletes from 88 nations competing in the Tokyo Grand Slam 2023, we are already counting almost 200 more athletes than in the previous edition. Another hope for change will come from the international athletes as only one gold medal did not go to the Japanese team in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, when Gennaro PIRELLI (ITA) placed first in the -100kg category. In fact, the home nation won a stunning 39 medals in total.
President of the All Japan Judo Federation, Mr NAKAMURA Shinichi is honoured to welcome top athletes from around the world in the home of judo,
This Grand Slam features many of the world’s best Judokas, including those who achieved glory at the 2023 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. With the Paris Olympic Games just seven months away, the race to secure Olympic qualification points is reaching its climax. We can expect heated competition from the best Judokas from all corners of the world at this year’s event.
For those who haven’t tuned in for this conclusive Grand Slam event, the run of play looks slightly different than usual, as on day one we will see the -57kg, -70kg, +78kg, -73kg, -81kg and -90kg weight categories compete first.
The lightest of the women’s category continues to be led by the Canadian duo, Christa DEGUCHI and Jessica KLIMKAIT, who once again find themselves in the battle for the Olympic Games position. Deguchi arguably has a home advantage given that she resides and trains in Japan but on their previous meet, the win went to Klimkait. Though we have outside threats from Brazil, competing for Grand Slam glory in Japan for Europe are Eteri LIPARTELIANI (GEO), Timna NELSON LEVY (ISR) in the seeded positions.
In the -73kg category we have world ranked number one, now three-time European Champion, Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE). Following the Azeri leading athlete, there is tough Asian opposition from Murodjon YULDOSHEV (UZB) and HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN), the latter having won this event first in 2016 and is the defending champion. This list of champions continues with Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) and Manuel LOMBARDO (ITA), closely followed by Petru PELIVAN (MDA). As always, this category is sure to throw in some suprises, perhaps look no further than Salvador CASES ROCA (ESP) who secured a defeat over Shavdatuashvili for a place in the European championship final.
As for the -70kg category, the tables certainly turn in favour of the European continent, with Sanne VAN DIJKE (NED) leading the charge followed by her bronze medal opponent in the Senior European Championships, Elisavet TELTSIDOU (GRE). There is only one half of the Croatian entry competing this week, world silver medallist in Tashkent, Lara CVJETKO with Ai TSUNODA ROUSTANT (ESP) closely behind. Madina TAIMAZOVA (AIN) poses a great threat, the Olympic medallist took silver most recently in the Senior European Championships, as well as a Grand Slam gold in Abu Dhabi the week prior. Rounding off the European seeds is Maya GOSHEN (ISR) who has been placing in Grand Slam events but is looking to improve on her bronze results.
There won’t be the fan’s favourite head to head in the -81kg category between Matthias CASSE (BEL) and Tato GRIGALASHVILI (GEO) given the latters’ absence in Tokyo, however the competition is stiff. WRL #2 Casse has Guilherme SCHIMIDT (BRA) on his tail but from the European entourage, only Saeid MOLLAEI (AZE) and Sagi MUKI (ISR) have seeded positions which is rounded off by Olympic Champion NAGASE Takanori (JPN).
As per the recent selection of the French Olympic team, we are missing a few big names including Romane DICKO in the +78kg category and instead, Raz HERSHKO (ISR) is the one with the target on her back. Nevertheless, Lea FONTAINE (FRA) is still there representing as well as the Dutch duo Marit KAMPS and Karen STEVENSON. Asya TAVANO (ITA) closes off the European entry, but there is still a huge presence from the Japanese athletes who are unseeded as well as Beatriz SOUZA (BRA), AMARSAIKHAN Adiyasuren (MGL) and Kamila BERLIKASH (KAZ).
World ranked #1, Luka MAISURADZE (GEO) is top of the pile in the -90kg category, but the current world champion has Japan’s MURAO Sanshiro hot on his tail in the absence of team mate Lasha BEKAURI. However the seeding is looking like a who’s who of the Adidas team with sponsored champions; Davlat BOBONOV (UZB), Christian PARLATI (ITA) and Noel VAN T END (NED) joining the Georgian number one. For the latter, Tokyo is a special place as he became world champion in the home of judo in 2019. Outside of the seeding, and not unusually, lies major threats in Mikhail IGOLNIKOV (AIN) and Marcus NYMAN (SWE). Interestingly, even further down the list we can see a younger generation appearing, the likes of SAFRANY Peter and GOZ Roland of Hungary, as well as Vugar TALIBOV (AZE) looking for their breakthrough moment.
Find the full list of judoka at JudoTV.com, as well as the draw from Friday 1st of December.
Author: Thea Cowen